Cuomo to Sign Order Allowing New York to Seize Ventilators

April 3, 2020 Updated: April 4, 2020

New York state officials will be able to seize ventilators from hospitals and other institutions that officials decide don’t need them, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday.

An executive order Cuomo planned to sign would let the state take ventilators to redistribute them to hospitals in need, the governor said at a press conference in Albany.

National Guard troops will be sent to pick up the ventilators and move them to where they’re needed “to save lives,” Cuomo said.

“People are going to die when they walk into a hospital and there’s no ventilator,” he said.

Hospitals will either get their ventilator back at a later time or be paid so they can buy a new one. The governor’s senior advisor, Rich Azzopardi, later said that Cuomo was asking upstate hospitals to loan 20 percent of their unused machines to “struggling downstate hospitals.” Cuomo on Saturday said the number of ventilators that would be redistributed were around 500.

Officials disputed describing what will happen as seizure, calling it a “sharing of resources.”

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A ventilator is displayed during a news conference at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse on March 24, 2020. (Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)

New York projects a shortage of ventilators as the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units continues to rise in the state. Officials have said as many as 40,000 ventilators will be needed.

New York currently has around 12,700 ventilators, according to figures given by state officials in recent days, and it has ordered 17,000 more. Ventilators used to cost around $20,000 each but the cost has spiked to around $50,000 amid the pandemic.

The COVID-19 disease, caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, can cause lung problems and some patients require assistance breathing while in the hospital.

Cuomo has repeatedly asked the federal government to send more of the breathing machines after the state was sent 4,000 of them. Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Thursday that some state and local officials are asking for supplies they don’t need while recommending using anesthesia machines as ventilators.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx speaks
Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during the daily briefing on the CCP virus at the White House on March 24, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

New York has received over half of the approximately 7,640 ventilators released to states from the federal government, federal officials told reporters on Thursday night.

States should make sure they know all the resources they have within the state and are fully utilizing them before requesting more, task force members said. At the same time, the federal government has been releasing ventilators from the national stockpile and from companies ramping up production of the machines.

“We want to make sure every state and every hotspot can be reassured that ventilators are there for them as they move through the curve. To date, we’ve been able to do that,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force response coordinator.

New York is using anesthesia machines as ventilators as well as ordering the cancellation of all elective surgeries, converting BiPAP machines into ventilators, and telling hospitals to “split” machines, which all hospitals in the state are now doing.

Cuomo said the state has only six days left until it runs out of ventilators. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier Friday that the city only has enough ventilators to last to Monday or Tuesday.

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Healthcare workers wheel the body of deceased person from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the CCP virus in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, on April 2, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

Hospitalizations Rise

The number of those hospitalized in New York rose again by a significant margin, reaching 14,810, an increase of 1,427.

Discharged patients rose by a similar margin to 8,886.

Patients in intensive care units rose by 335 to 3,731 while the number of deaths increased to 2,935, up from 2,373.

Ten thousand more people tested positive overnight. Statewide, nearly 103,000 have tested positive, with over 57,000 of those in New York City.

Nassau and Suffolk counties again reported significant increases of over 1,400 each.

New York has, by far, the most cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the country.

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